The Proposal

Back on February 1st, Carrot Ranch kicked off the Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic as a way to support Sue in her in journey through cancer and show her how much she is loved by this creative community.

Winners were announced on March 22nd. And what a fabulous outpouring of talent. To read all the 99-word stories and 99-syllable poems based on Sue’s photo prompt, click HERE.

I’m delighted to share one of my entries.

The Proposal

When he’d asked for her hand, he’d promised a white-washed farm in the patchwork valley. Verdant fields and tart cherry trees perfect for pies. He’d offered gardens and pearls and the earnest comfort of old-fashioned love. And each time, she’d denied him.

Then they’d climbed her autumn hill, where the valley flowed like an emerald river, and beneath the woolen clouds, the sun’s long brush painted the mountains with light. He grasped her hand and dropped to a knee. “If I build you a cabin on this golden hill, will you marry me?”

So certain was her answer.

Yes.

Invisible Gifts

Pixabay image by Barbara A. Lane

This is my last post for a few weeks as I sign off for the holidays. I wish you all a happy holiday season filled with peace, love, and good health. May we have a new year full of kindness and hope. ❤

This poem is in response to the image Colleen Chesebro provided for her #Tanka Tuesday Challenge. The poem is a garland cinquain.

Bow Down

Bow down

to winter’s wheel

when sacred smoke ascends

blends in the hushed whiteness of breath

spirit

sleepless

gather our dreams

life’s unspoken secrets

tales of longing words of solace

unseen

our eyes

cannot behold

the warp and weft of love

nor peace and bliss, a swallow’s song

a chant

our hands

cannot unwrap

whispers of forgiveness

a prayer in a child’s heart

a hope

in grace

we surrender

to winter’s darkest night

the gifts of the invisible

renewed

bow down

gather our dreams

the weft and weave of love

a prayer in a child’s heart

renewed.

Daybreak #Writephoto

Photo copyright Sue Vincent

The chirping alarm clock wakes us at an ungodly hour, and I quickly prepare a thermos of hot chocolate. Muffins packed. Sweaters donned. Flashlights? Check. Blankets? Check. Keys? I pat my pocket, running through my mental checklist. We load up and drive the winding lane to the knoll.

It’s my 60th birthday, and I want to watch the sunrise. My ten-year-old granddaughter indulges my desire.

We spread a blanket on the smooth ledge, cupfuls of cocoa in hand, another blanket warming our laps. The stars behind us glimmer like luminescence in the sky’s black sea. To the east, they fade as dawn breaks. Clouds stream in heaven’s wind, a sheer sail unfurling over the slumbering land.

A light catches the corner of my eye. An iphone! “Gah!  Turn that thing off.”

“I have to check one thing.”

My instruction is ignored. I emit a series of annoyed and exasperated groans, mutterings, and sighs.

“One minute,” she giggles, unswayed by my performance. “I’m looking something up.”

I wait.

She leans into my shoulder and shares. “Did you know that light is actually all colors, and each color has a different wavelength. Blue is the shortest and red the longest.

“Hm.”

“Different length lightwaves travel through space, and when they reach the atmosphere, they bounce off particles in the air. Like dust, water, and ice crystals, and tiny gas molecules. They scatter in lots of different directions.”

“Interesting.”

My subtle hints are failing to have an impact. She scrolls down. “When sunlight travels a short path through the atmosphere, tiny gas molecules scatter blue sunlight in all directions, making the sky blue. At sunrise and sunset, when light travels a long path, it’s mostly red and yellow.”

I sling an arm around her and sigh. “And I thought it was magic.”

She slides her phone into her pocket, and we “ooh” and “aah” as the sun bathes tiny gas molecules with gloriously long light waves.

“You know what else it said?” Apparently, my little scientist isn’t finished.

“What?”

“That the clouds are a canvas on which nature paints her colors.”

“I like that,” I say.

“I thought you would. You see? It’s magic after all.”

***

In response to Sue Vincent’s Thursday #Writephoto prompt.

This is a work of fiction.

Reflecting on Mother’s Day

Four generations of women on Mother's Day, 30 yrs ago

Four generations of women on Mother’s Day, 36 yrs ago

A repost from last year, no less relevant today.

For several years, I had the great privilege of serving families in need. As part of my work, I was invited into homes and lives to guide, teach, nurture, and when I could, to gather baskets of memories brimming with new ways of being and believing in the world. At most, I accompanied mothers and children on their journeys for mere slivers of time, and yet in the collection of hours and days, I was witness to great suffering and love, desperation and hope.

Those who travel the helpers’ path are granted gifts. Not gifts wrapped in paper and laced with ribbon that we set on a windowsill and forget with time, but gifts that reside within us, that alter who we are and how we perceive our world.

We live in a time of divisiveness. Our politics shred our world, and unfiltered rhetoric spews like bile into the air, toxic with deception and blame. It is no wonder that we are losing our ability to listen and behold each other with open minds and compassionate hearts.

Struggling mothers and their children live everywhere: in the mountains of China, on the plains of Africa, in the arid lands of Iran, or simply around the corner. Across the globe, mothers touch small foreheads, peer into innocent eyes, and sing their children to sleep.  What would happen to our world if we became still and quiet and listened to those whispered songs?

The enduring gifts of a mother’s love have sustained children, families and communities through the centuries. They are timeless, borderless reminders of our common humanity and dreams of hope.

To mothers everywhere, I wish us a world of peace.

Monochrome #Writephoto

copyright – Sue Vincent

Monochrome

My mother’s home
bows to the leaden clouds
through withering years
her gravity weights us
frail fingers of need
suspended from my shoulders

She clutches my arm
like a worn-out child
I bear without bending
but why do I feel
my feet have grown tap roots
and I cannot extract them

They are declining together
that house and she
sagging and creaking
water-marked and fractured
fragile veins of rusted pipes
crumbling the foundation of bones

Beauty requires altered eyes
the blurred half-distance of memory
a chorus of overlapping echoes
in party dresses and baby’s breath
when the decay of age was nothing
a coat of paint couldn’t hide

She has lost the sharp-edged borders
scarlet tulips and peach-rimmed roses
glories of the morning in royal blue
black-eyed Susans and apricot orchids
mums in the amber blaze of twilight
winter’s bittersweet

I will remember
her spring blossoms
ceding to blood red chrysanthemums
and garlands of evergreen
until the day I too fade
into monochrome

**

I just got home from another visit to my parents. They’re doing fine but declining, especially my mother. This poem is bleaker than the real situation. It’s just the muse and image tugging me along. Thanks to Sue Vincent for another Thursday #Writephoto prompt. (I missed the deadline, but happily post this anyway.)

At the Mirror: Foxtrot in the kitchen

I used to share some of my favorite posts from other bloggers. Then my speculative fiction prompt took over my blog! I’m taking advantage of my current travels to share some favorites.

My friend from Li’l Place posted this one almost a year ago and then took a blogging break for about 6 months. I hung onto it, and now that she’s returned, I finally get to share this beautiful piece of writing. Enjoy.

Foxtrot in the Kitchen

by L’il Place

It is the most wonderful thing when a memory catches up with one unexpectedly.  Maybe it’s the balmy summer night air or maybe it’s the sight of a box of waffle ice cream cones that sat unopened on my kitchen counter top.  But, I found myself pulled into a dance that took place half a lifetime ago.

When I just started working, I had rented a room from a landlady.  To keep her privacy, I will call her Mrs. C.  There was no a/c in her old but cozy house and it was a particularly humid and hot summer.   We would open up the windows and run the fans to their max to try dispel the heat.  My favorite place in that house was her kitchen.  I would watch her cook many hearty, delicious Italian meals which she shared with me most generously.  In fact,  she was the one who introduced me to white clam linguine.  Before that, I had foolishly thought that all pasta dishes were doused in tomato sauce.  She called the white clam linguine the easiest pasta dish to prepare and thanks to her, I have prepared it many times for my own family.  Dinners with her and her husband, Mr. C, were always followed by ice cream cones…

(Continue reading: Foxtrot in the kitchen)

Faded Valentines #Tanka Tuesday

pixabay

Faded Valentines

glued
glittered
valentines
gifts for mommy
scribbled words of love
fly from children’s fingers
to rest in attic boxes
while affections stray to others
and in the dawn of a winter’s day
she unfolds her faded hearts, loved anew

**

In honor of Valentine’s Day, an etheree for
Colleen’s #tanka Tuesday.
No prompt words this week.

**

And a bonus!
My Grandson’s Valentine’s Day Poem
(age 5)

Love is red
Love makes me happy
Love is connected to peace
Love is about Martin Luther King
I love my family
more than infinity

 

Spirals of Time #Writephoto

photo by Sue Vincent

I’ve always known I would travel here, to the heathered moors and verdant hills, to wander narrow roadways past stone cottages with views of the cold northern sea. Perhaps it was the Brontes or Hardy who first entranced me with the raw emotion that seems embedded in the very soil, that sweeps through castle ruins and keens across ancient cairns and holy places.

I couldn’t quite put my finger on the pulse of my yearning. But after my accident, I chose to wait no more.

The stone chapel was once part of a larger manor. It’s a quaint place of colored glass and worn reliefs, of strange carvings above its arched doorway. But also a place of layered faiths and archaic mysteries, imbued with ghosts of the past like a spiritual lodestone. I can no more ignore it than deny my heart to beat.

The day wanes, and I worry that the door might be locked. I give the latch a tug, and my fears prove true. Undaunted, I circle the perimeter, looking for another way in. To break in, frankly, though my intentions are harmless overall.

“Can I help you?”

The voice startles me, and I turn, sputtering apologies, only to encounter another shock. The fellow stands so close we nearly bump noses. “I was attempting to find a way in,” I explain, retreating a step.

“I can see that.”

“I’m from the US.”

“Do people from the US normally break into private chapels?”

“No!” My nerves force a laugh. “Not that I’ve heard of anyway. Rarely. I’ve… Well, this will sound strange, but I… It seems so silly really.” A blush pinks my face, and I stick out my hand. “I’m Daphne.”

“William. The guardian.” He takes my hand and bows, kissing it.

“The guardian?” I blink at him, flustered and nervous, but not afraid. He seems a part of this place, bonded to the stones and wildflowers, the crooked graveyard, and the weathered cross at the roof’s peak. I blow out an awkward breath. “What I meant to say is… I think destiny delivered me here, to this exact moment, to this chapel. It’s puzzling, but I feel as though I belong here and always have.”

“And I’ve been expecting you.” He smiles, looking quite noble, and sweeps his palm toward the door.

I laugh at his odd comment, but his kindness puts me at ease. He unlocks the door, and I enter without a sound. The room is tiny, though I hardly notice, my eyes drawn to a tomb illuminated by the sunlight lancing a slender window. “Whose tomb…?” I begin to ask, but William has withdrawn and awaits me in the garden.

The place is silent and still, and yet it’s thick with souls and reeling with the passage of time. I can scarcely breathe as I approach the tomb and gaze upon the sculpture of a knight. He appears asleep, his features tranquil and familiar. William’s face. A red rose, the only color in the gray-washed chapel, lies near his belt, and a white note in a woman’s script, my script, rests at its side.

Wait for me, my loyal knight, and trust my heart,
for through the spirals of time, 
I will return.

My fingers pass through the paper without a flutter. I now know why I have come here. I am home.

**

Thanks to Sue Vincent for the beautiful Thursday #Writephoto prompt. It was hard to resist a little romance. ❤

An update… Life rolls onward

Mom in 2014

My brother Justin and I arrived in Colorado to whisper our goodbyes to our mom.

It turned out that she’d contracted E-coli, and while the illness raged through her intestines, it also caused kidney damage and cardiac complications. In her already weakened state, it was draining what was left of her strength.

I sat vigil in her hospital room, slept on a bench, aided the amazing nurses, and after 9 exhausting days in intensive care, my mom’s health began to improve.

In the meantime, two hours away, my dad contracted E-coli (I learned later that CNN reported the outbreak). Justin and I were on double duty, driving, caretaking, and cleaning! The old codger refused to go to the hospital, and he was strong enough that we decided not to drag him there by his ears. He remains at home and is recovering.

My mom is still terribly frail but has been moved to a rehabilitation center as a step toward going home. I remain hopeful and will be facilitating her transition home and then moving them both to senior housing near Justin and me as soon as space becomes available.

I’m home for a few days and then back to Colorado this weekend. Life has been topsy-turvy, the blog suffers from neglect, best-laid plans are in shambles, but I have no regrets for being part of my mom’s last weeks or years, whatever comes. Writing? What’s that? Haha!

Blogging will be sporadic during October as I travel back and forth, and I’ve been contemplating a few changes for the new year – all fun writerly stuff! I hope to visit everyone during this brief respite at home, but I don’t expect I’ll post frequently until things settle down. Thank you all for your kind wishes and concern. I have thought of you often over the last two weeks.

 

Give and Receive #Tanka

pixabay image

 

The Bargain

My heart will tender

white-winged dreams on the morrow

if you gift this soul

in the mottled hush of dusk

remembrances of the past

This tanka, my first ever, is in response to Colleen’s Tuesday #Tanka Challenge. The prompts are Give & Receive, (but we can only use synonyms).